I’ve been thinking lately about reach vs. fragmentation when it comes to internet publishing such as blog articles and photo sharing. It seems that reach and fragmentation are at odds.
If I write an article on my blog, and don’t discuss it elsewhere, fragmentation isn’t an issue – I can engage with readers’ comments and have a conversation about the article solely in the comments area of my blog. All voices who choose to engage can do so in one place, and it’s easy to see others’ thoughts and comments. The same applies to photo sharing… I can choose a platform of choice (Flickr, SmugMug, Google+, my own website, etc.) and only upload a photograph to that site, thereby leading to a set of comments, feedback, and conversation that occurs in a single location.
The apparently downside to this scenario is that by only publishing in one place, the audience is restricted to those who monitor that place.
The opposite scenario can enable great reach for a piece of writing or a photograph. In the case of a blog article, not only could I publish it on my website, but I could also write that article as a Google+ entry or (if it’s relatively short) a Facebook post. I could share it on LinkedIn and Twitter. I could attempt to reach the greatest number of people by spreading the content across as many platforms as possible.
This method would likely result in the greatest reach, but the feedback and conversation will be fragmented… you’ll have some blog comments, some Google+ replies, perhaps Facebook comments, some Twitter @mentions, and more…
Finding Your Mix
Here’s the kicker: even if you try to consolidate and keep things in a single place, the conversation will happen1. People will talk about and share your writing or photography even if you’re not participating. Even if you hope they leave blog comments, they’re going to tweet. If you prefer that the discussion all happens on Google+, that’s fine, but you need to know that someone’s going to share your thing on Facebook and someone else is going to comment or “Like” it.
If the conversation is going to happen, how do you decide where to invest your time and energy? My general strategy is to use my website as my home base for content that isn’t merely transient. You’ll find my writing and some interesting photography here. I use Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks to link back to the content on my website. Google+ is a bit of an outlier in that I don’t simply link back to photos, I often publish photos on Google+ directly. Why? Because photos drive engagement there. There’s no magic formula.
Focus a majority of your energy on the platforms and networks that bring you the greatest results2, but also use monitoring tools to see what’s happening elsewhere so that you can respond appropriately.